Yucatan: the archaeological zone of Ek’ Balam begins with conservation work


Mexican specialists Conservation work has begun on the Acropolis of the Ek’ Balam Archaeological Zone, a site located in the northeast of the state of Yucatan.

According to a press release from National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the work is part of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza), which takes care of the sites adjoining the mayan trainand will take place over 12 months, during which an investment of 25 million pesos is envisaged and the temporary employment of 80 people, including specialists and residents of the communities of Ek’ Balam, Temozón and Valladolid.

The conservation project envisages the stabilization of the facade, which has a representation of the terrestrial monster and will involve works interdisciplinarybased on the criteria of minimum intervention, retractability, reversibility, compatibility of materials and stability in the goods, as well as the differentiation of interventions with respect to the original elements.

The emphasis on the analysis of the fabric of the decorative elements, reliefs and stone materials of the Acropolis, undertaken 20 years ago when the public websites, It will make it possible to identify and propose the control of degradation caused by climatic phenomena, such as those that occurred in 2020, which caused significant concentrations of humidity inside and whose drying process will take many years, the institution said.

The conservation of the decorative heritage of Ek’ Balam will progress with the entry into force of the Promeza Photo: Mauricio Marat / INAH

According to the restaurant Alejandra Alonso Olvera, from the National Coordination for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (CNPCC), emerging attention is focused on the damage to the decorative elements of the teratomorphic facade of the structure known as Sak Xok Naah (“the white house of reading “, in Yucatecan Maya), on the fourth level of the Acropolis; in addition to representations of snakes with hieroglyphic writing, as well as stone and stucco sculptural elements that cover the portals of the buildings located in the lower levels of the Acropolis.

signs of damage

“We had conservation and restoration treatments which, for a time and with the support of auxiliary systems, such as protective covers and wind drains, prevented the loss of materials. originals. Some of these interventions, carried out over two decades, showed signs of damage, weathering or failure due to the rains, so we replaced several of them.

“The first actions will consist of eliminating and removing with pressurized water vapor the microflora of the facades with greater runoff of rainwater, since the roofs have been damaged by high winds and continuous rains.” The specialist indicates that the development of algae and fungiin addition to producing stains, it causes significant chemical damage to the surfaces of decorative elements.

Archaeological Zone of Ek’ Balam, Yucatan. Photo: Mauricio Marat / INAH

The architectural assets of Ek’ Balam they come from the extraction and transformation of excellent quality limestone. In this sense, the stuccoed reliefs of the Sak Xok Naah were created with lime from burnt limestone and sands of the same origin. For this reason, the raw material used in the restorations is high purity chemical lime, produced in Yucatan, which avoids differential behaviors in the processes of contraction and expansion during drying and evaporation of the water contained in building materials.

Ek’ Balam, “Lucero-Jaguar”, had its peak in the period Late Classic (600-900 AD), and was possibly the seat of the Kingdom of Talol. The Ukit Kan ruler Le’k Tok’ (770-801 AD) ordered the construction of most of the Acropolis, being the Sak Xok Nahh his tomb, where he was accompanied by a rich offering of more than seven thousand pieces.

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